Tennessee native Addie Baggarly talks about Arnold Palmer Cup, Augusta National
Addie Baggarly and her dad, Mark, have both walked the famed grounds of Augusta National Golf Club.
But her mom, Kristy, has never been ... and she really had no intention of going.
Years ago, long before the Augusta National Women's Amateur was ever dreamed up, Kristy told her husband and daughter that there was only one thing that would lure her to the iconic course in northern Georgia.
"My mom was always like, 'I don't want to go to Augusta unless you (Mark) are playing, or some crazy way that Addie gets to play there in the future," remembered Addie, who played her prep golf at Science Hill High School and Tennessee High in the Tri-Cities region.
As fate would have it, just two short months from now Addie will get to play there, as she recently received a coveted invitation to play in the second Augusta National Women's Amateur.
"I'm just glad I get to take my mom...and I'm glad it was me that gets to take her and not my dad," Addie said with a grin.
Baggarly, a senior at the University of Florida, is one of three Tennesseeans who will compete in the event, scheduled for March 30-April 1. She will join Manchester native and Mississippi State University sophomore Ashley Gilliam and Memphis native and Stanford University freshman Rachel Heck.
The first two rounds of the ANWA will be contested at Champions Retreat in Augusta. All competitors will then get to play a practice round at the course known for hosting the Masters each April. The players who make the cut for the final round will then compete for the ANWA title at Augusta National.
Baggarly has actually played the course before. Her Florida Gators squad was a special guest of Augusta National Golf Club chairman Fred Ridley – a Florida alumnus – last January.
"I blinked and it was over," Baggarly remembered of the experience. "Mr. Ridley had me hit the first tee ball. I was shaking like a leaf. I hit it so far left into the trees. I was like, 'Well, at least it didn't go in the right bunker'. I started out bogey, bogey. It was absolutely terrible."
As the round progressed, though, things got better for Baggarly's scorecard.
She birdied every hole in "Amen Corner", the nickname given to holes 11, 12 and 13. It is considered one of the most sacred stretches in golf.
After Baggarly birdied 13, she vividly remembers Chairman Ridley saying, "You know, I've never played with someone who has birdied all of Amen Corner."
"It was the coolest experience of my life," Baggarly said.
Baggarly had two teammates compete in the inaugural ANWA two years ago – Sierra Brooks and Marta Perez – as well as one of her close friends, 2018 Tennessee Women's Amateur champion Mariah Smith of Clarksville. The 2019 ANWA was historic because it was the first time since Augusta National opened in 1933 that women golfers competed at the course.
Baggarly remembers watching on the television as Maria Fassi and Jennifer Kupcho battled down the stretch in a memorable finish to the tournament, ultimately won by Kupcho.
The excitement surrounding the event, as well as knowing many of the players in the field, only fueled Baggarly's desire to make it to Augusta.
"We had a watch party at the (University of Florida) Golf House, and I knew that's what Augusta was going to get with Maria and Jenn in the last round," she explained. "I knew it was going to be a fireworks show."
"That put a lot of fire under me too, to put my sights on Augusta. I knew I definitely wanted to play in it before I turn pro."
Receiving the invitation to the ANWA capped a solid holiday break for Baggarly, as she spent the days leading up to Christmas competing for Team USA in the Arnold Palmer Cup. The biennial Ryder Cup-style tournament which pits the top men's and women's collegiate golfers from the United States against their International counterparts.
The event was originally scheduled to be played in July at Lahinch Golf Club in Ireland, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was rescheduled and moved to the home course of its namesake, Bay Hill Club and Lodge.
The International Team won the event, but Baggarly said she will always remember what an honor it was to be part of it.
"It was just extremely historic to be able to represent Team USA in an event that looked like it wasn't even going to happen," she added. "Everyone with the Arnold Palmer Cup Foundation and Rolex and Nike did everything they could to let us play that tournament."
"It was just a great experience, and we made memories that will last a lifetime."
Playing in the Arnold Palmer Cup and the Augusta National Women's National – two of the most coveted invitations an amateur female golfer can receive – is confirmation for Baggarly that the hard work she has put into her game is paying off.
And after also earning All-SEC honors last year and having qualified for three U.S. Women's Amateur Championships during her career, one of the things she is most proud of is having shed an annoying nickname she acquired back in her junior golf days.
"Back when I played AJGA," she remembered," the interns would call me 'First Alternate', kind of as a joke, because I was always the first alternate when it came to getting into the Wyndham Cup and big things like that."
"That kind of stuck with me as motivation. I was like, 'I'm not going to let that happen to me in college golf. I'm not going to be the first alternate anymore'. So it's kind of nice to see the hard work pay off, and it's just nice to see those invitations come in the mail now."